Teacher Profile: Señora McCarthy

Centennial Spanish teacher Señora Argentina McCarthy immigrated to the United States from Panama when she was 18 years old. In her classes, she discusses the struggles of having to learn a new language and use it every day. Her talks about college in America and having to use a foreign language all the time resonate well with students and seems to make them work harder in her class. 

Born and raised in David City, Panama, McCarthy has always enjoyed school. “School was actually fun!” She said while reminiscing about her childhood. “Elementary school was very guided. When we got to high school we had a lot of freedom within the school. We had a park in front of the school and we had one hour a day that was free time and we could go to that park and sit down and walk around and talk. There was also a covered cafeteria style [building] but it wasn’t really a cafeteria like it is here. You had to purchase food and it was privately owned, but you could buy a snack and sit down and eat it. For lunch you went home. It was fun because I had enough time to be with my friends.” 

McCarthy didn’t know she wanted to be a teacher back then, but while in church one day, she was asked to give a lesson to the younger kids. She fell in love with teaching, as she stated, “I enjoyed that because I’ve always liked small children and they’re very cute with their answers,” she explained. McCarthy then went on to teach preschool for five years. “Then I was asked to work with teenagers and teenagers terrified me so I was very very scared,” she recalled, laughing. “But when I started to work with the youth in church, I realized that they were not different from little kids, they just had bigger bodies. They still had the same wants and needs and they were just as funny as the little kids but they were bigger people and I just became very used to the group and I felt comfortable with them and I enjoyed teaching that group so I decided to teach high school.

As a high school teacher, McCarthy teaches Spanish V AP, Spanish III/IIIH, and Spanish I. “I like the levels for different reasons,” she said. “The level one can be rewarding in that you get students, if you get a student that doesn’t know anything, that hasn’t had any Spanish before, and you get to see the progress by the end of the year, you can see progress. As the levels progress, the levels are not as visible and it’s a little more difficult to correct mistakes. I like all levels but the one that is visible that you can say, ‘oh my gosh, you see the growth’ is level one.’” McCarthy has been teaching high school for 22-24 years now. She has taught at Centennial for 15-17 years and taught at River Hill for the other 7.

McCarthy’s favorite part of teaching is “the student interaction.”

“It’s not so much the subject,” she said, “it’s more, I think the subject is

a way to impart to give the student some, to make them feel good about themselves, to give them a sense of what’s right and wrong. You know, like to have those teachable moments and I enjoy teenagers. I find teenagers funny and interesting and that’s, I feed off that.” She also made a point to emphasize how, to her, the teaching comes second to the relationship that she believes is most important. “ I always look at it [teaching] as secondary to the relationship. I think it’s important for the students to have a relationship with the teachers.”


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